Forget Good Pineda and Bad Pineda. These days, it’s just Michael Pineda.
Well-known for his mercurial ways, Pineda continued to chip away at that reputation Saturday, delivering his fourth strong start in a row in a 12-4 win over the Orioles. He allowed two runs, both unearned, and five hits in 5 1⁄3 innings, with a walk and eight strikeouts. He also dropped his ERA to 3.14 — the lowest it’s been since May 10, 2015, when he memorably fanned 16 Orioles batters.
Pineda, who has struck out 37 and walked four in 28 2⁄3 innings, has won three straight at Yankee Stadium for the first time in his career.
“Big Mike’s got a good thing going,” Austin Romine said. “He’s figured out what he needs to do to win games. He’s going out there every time and giving us the same look and he’s being consistent and he’s getting outs.”
Pineda said his slider was especially sharp and that his concentration has been the biggest factor this season. The slider was a big strikeout pitch for him Saturday, when he cruised until the sixth inning. He did get some help in the third from third baseman Chase Headley, who made a diving backhand grab of Manny Machado’s line drive, saving at least one run and possibly two.
“I have really good focus on the mound and I’m executing pitches all the time,” Pineda said. “I’m not losing my focus — every pitch, every hitter, try to do the best.”
He added, “I have to be perfect on the mound because I want to throw the ball [well], but you feel better on the mound when you have a lot of scorers like that. It’s good . . . I executed my pitches today and everything was good. I had good command, especially from the slider.”
Chapman says he’s OK
Aroldis Chapman caused a mild scare on Friday night when he attempted to field a ball with his pitching hand and had the ball strike a finger. Chapman said after Saturday’s game that he “feels good” and gave a thumbs-up sign. Joe Girardi said he isn’t overly concerned about his closer, who did not split a nail or appear to suffer any significant abrasion on impact.
Though he offered no timetable, Girardi indicated that Gary Sanchez might return soon. Sanchez (strained right biceps) has thrown and hit and now is running the bases. “Everything was good,” Girardi said. Running “was the only thing I didn’t see. Everything so far has looked good.”
With Roger Rubin